Best Chocolate Cookies

This is the best chocolate cookie I bake. And I don’t say that lightly. It’s a crackle-edged puddle of chocolate with a texture like a collision between a soft meringue and a fudgy brownie. Part of my essential cookie repertoire!

Best Chocolate Cookies

I came across the perfect chocolate cookie when I visited Portland years ago. The cookies were popular in the coffee shop I would visit, and I loved them. Each cookie was a crackle-edged puddle of chocolate with a texture that made me think of a collision between soft meringue and a fudgy brownie. I fell hard. In the years since, we’ve come to call them chocolate puddle cookies, and there are just six ingredients between you a baking sheet of them. No mixer necessary, just a big bowl and wooden spoon.
chocolate cookies on parchment paper after baking

Chocolate Cookie Inspiration

As far as the origins of this recipe? I came across a recipe shortly after my return from Portland that sounded very close to the cookie I tasted there. The Portland chocolate cookies seemed to be a version of François Payard's Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookie. But, the recipe I was working from didn't work all that well for me. The good news is, it did provide a good starting point. I adjusted a few ingredients, tweaked my technique, and now I've been able to make them reliably making little tweaks along the way. All my insights and ingredient notes are integrated into this page and recipe.

Chocolate Cookies: The Ingredients

The ingredient list here is short and direct. There’s a good chance you have all the ingredients on hand - cocoa, powdered sugar, egg whites, walnuts, vanilla, and a bit of salt. A few related notes:

  • Cocoa powder: I’ve used a wide range cocoa powder in these cookies over the years. The key here is to use unsweetened. For a long time I tended to use non-alkalized cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger or Dagoba) but also tested with Droste, which is a Dutch-process cocoa powder. And! I just made a fantastic batch using Guittard Cocoa Rough last week. Pictured here. So, use what you like, just be sure it’s not sweetened.
  • Walnuts: On the walnut front, be mindful of how you toast your walnuts, it's the single factor that impacts the personality of these cookies most. Using deeply toasted walnuts makes for a much more intense, nutty cookie. Lightly toasted walnuts can sometimes be mistaken for chocolate chips, and make for a much more mild cookie. Both good!
  • Powdered sugar: I've used both 365 organic powdered sugar from Whole Foods, and Hain organic powdered sugar with success.
  • Eggs: Use large eggs, I suspect if you use extra-large, the batter will run, and you'll have to compensate with more powdered sugar.

Technique and Pro-tips

Reading this far will pay off, I promise. Here are a couple things that really make a difference here.

  1. Sift. Really, don’t skip this step. Get all those lumps out.
    chocolate cookie ingredients sifted into a bowl
  2. Add ingredients in the correct order. This is what your mixture should look like after mixing in the walnuts. (below)
    chocolate cookie dry ingredients combines in a mixing bowl
  3. Consistency. This is roughly what your cookie batter should look like after mixing in the egg whites.
    chocolate cookie batter in a mixing bowl
  4. Bake & Cool Completely. Do your best to avoid under-baking, and after baking, allow the cookies to cool completely. A couple hours is best. They will set up beautifully. The goal is a clean break-away from the parchment paper. It’s sometimes hard to tell when these cookies are fully baked, the ones in the picture directly above are slightly underbaked for my tastes. So I adjusted with the remaining two cookie sheets.
    chocolate cookie cooling on racks in a kitchen

Chocolate Cookie Variations

I like to make these just as written in the recipe below. It’s one of those rare cooking endeavors where I don’t mess around much. But there have been many great comments over the years. A lot of people make these chocolate cookies with toasted pecans in place of the walnuts. Some add the zest of an orange. And another person recommended dried cherries. Espresso powder was something I’ve considered but never tried (although some of you have!).And numerous people like to freeze these cookies, and crumble them over ice cream for the win!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. They've become family favorites.

close up of chocolate cookie on a marble countertop

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chocolate cookie on parchment paper after baking

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Chocolate Cookies

4.63 from 8 votes

Also known around here as chocolate puddle cookies. The main thing, as mentioned up above, you don't want to over or under bake here. Over bake, and your cookies will cool to a crisp. Under bake, and they are too floppy and crumbly. Also, underbaking makes it more difficult to remove the cookies from the parchment paper after baking. You’ll get the swing of it after a sheet or two!

Ingredients
  • 3 cups / 11 oz / 310 g walnut halves, toasted & cooled
  • 4 cups / 1 lb / 453 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon real, good-quality vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320°F / 160°C degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.

  2. Make sure your walnuts have cooled, then chop coarsely (pea-sized chunks) and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the salt and walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until uniform and well combined.
  3. Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.
  4. Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 13 -15 minutes. Have faith! They look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front, but I typically don’t bother.
  5. After removing from the oven, slide the cookies (still on parchment) onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They are best after they’ve cooled for a couple hours if you can wait. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.
Notes

Makes 18 large cookies.

Serves
18
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 
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Recipe Rating




Comments

Looks like an amazing texture! Will have to try, thanks.

claiborne

Ah, chocolate--you never cease to excite me. I too fall in love with delectable chocolate treats. I love the sound of the walnuts in these--walnuts always takes things up a notch. Fudgey, too? Sign me up.

Anna @ unsweetenedcocoa

I am glad you went with your gut and posted this article. This would be a sin not to share. Thank you!

Georgia.Pellegrini

These look like the perfect Valentine's Day treat for the chocolate lover. Looking forward to baking them this weekend.

The Frugal Diva

yes, these were just like Francois Payard's cookies that he sold at his pastissiere here in NYC.....New York Magazine printed the recipe years ago......thanks for reminding me about these really really delicious cookies....they are definitely a keeper!

Jane Ridolfi

Wow, those look delicious. I wish I had one right now.

Sean

Your photography is so beautiful, those cookies look mouth-watering!

Katie

These look incredible! I can almost smell their aroma from here. :) Jenn

Jenn (www.j3nn.net)

wow these do look so delicious! glad you decided to post the recipe!

Simply Life

Heidi..my mouth is watering and I'm stuck at home due to the massive snow storm...this is exactly what I'm going to make right now! Thanks again for a fabulous recipe...I can't wait to bake these little puddles up!

The Healthy Apple

Thanks for posting the chocolate cookies(always a favorite of mine), can't wait to try them.

debbie

Wonderful - what a delightful treat for St. Valentine's day... i will bake them tomorrow. I guess its hard to make these egg-less...

alissa

A few years back, Whole Foods used to make something very close to these and labeled them as gluten-free chocolate chewy cookies. Your description has me believing this is basically that recipe! I'm so excited - I loved those cookies. I'm drooling at the thought.

Alta

And don't forget they're gluten-free! If only they were glutton-free.

Lentil Breakdown

This has been the mainstay of my cookie menu for over 15 years. I found it in, I believe, the first publication of the magazine Chocolatier. It was the recipe of a man named Gottlieb. My version uses pecans and only 3 egg whites. Freezing keeps the textural integrity the best. Even if over baked they can be crumbled over ice cream.

Sybil

These sound like the fabulous cookies made by Grand Central Bakery in Portland! Is that where you found them? I moved to NC from Ptld in 8/08 and I still long for those addictive cookies, though I think they also had chocolate chips. Thanks, Heidi, "A'hm maykin' theyse soon" (I'm trying to get into the almost-Southern accent down here!).

Candace

wow, these look absolutely delicious! I have been trying to cut back on chocolate for now, but will have to try these in the future! (When I can save a few for me and my husband and give the rest away!)

Lisa @ Early Morning Run

anniem, I live in Canberra and found that confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar (US) = icing sugar mixture (AU). Icing sugar is just superfine sugar crystals, finer than caster sugar. If all else fails, look at the ingredients list. It should be sugar and corn (or other) starch.

Misha

Nooo!!! I just have in the oven right now some butter free muffin - I have to make a decadent sweet for a friend who's leaving, who is testing for a milk allergy - and you come up with those perfect solutions to my dilemma?!? And they are not so decadent, as someone else noted - all the omega 3 in the walnuts... Well, I guess my friend is going to get two goodbye treats instead of one :)

Caffettiera

These are yummy and tasty.I have tried it.

anjani

look and sound delicious. thanks for sharing. i will be making them.

carla

omigod...these cookies came out just perfectly! They are heavenly, totally satisfying, fabulous texture. Probably the only cookie I will ever make again...thank you, Heidi. I love 101 cookbooks, it has taken us back to our vegetarian hearts. Thank you so much.

Mary Jane

My husband has a nut allergy to everything BUT peanuts, almonds, pine nuts and cashews. I was wondering if anyone thinks one of these will work well? I may try cashews.... thoughts?

shannonfabulous

It sounds crazy but my imagination is creating an irresistible smell of chocolate right now...

Kitchen M

My God these look incredible!!!! I almost fell off my chair. MUST try for Valentine's Day (as I am my own Valentine this year...)!

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

Sure wish there were a way to make these friendly to diabetics. Could something like splenda for baking be used, or is there a health or other reason not to (at least, for a desperate diabetic needing a good chocolate cookie)? Looks absolutely wonderful!

OperaJoys

Thanks for posting your recipe in weight measurements also. That's one less recipe for me to convert! I'll have to wait until next week to make these since I made chocolate cupcakes the other day. They do look sinfully yummy.

Mochene

I will try these with macadamia's I think. They should still keep the structure but add a little creaminess as well. Can't wait to try as soon as my oven is repaired!

Kerrie

Every now and then it's nice to treat ourselves to some chocolate-y goodness. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe. I'm going to try these this weekend :)

Charlotte

@Mar: I also saw a similar recipe in nymag, I actually ripped out the recipe and put it in my recipe notebook. I've been intending to make it for ages for my roommate who is allergic to gluten. Heidi, I love the pecan suggestion, I think I am going to make these cookies today. It is a veritable blizzard here in NYC and this will be a nice project to do when I leave work early.

Gretchen

Oh, my, I am definitely going to make these for my chocolate loving co-workers!

Stephanie

Wow, these were fantastic. I live in DC, more commonly known of late as New Antarctica. If there ever were a week that called for baking, this would be it. I added about a tablespoon of coffee to the batter, and it really made the chocolate pop. Also, I'd say definitely follow the directions and chop those walnuts a bit. I left them bigger, and I think the cookies would have been just perfect if the nuts were a bit smaller.

Leah

Heidi, Surely you jest. How could 18 of these wonderful cookies possibly last for more than a few minutes much less a couple of days? You should revise your recipe to read "locked" container instead of airtight container. :-) They look amazing. ~Rosemary

Content in a Cottage

Not sure I could think of anything sweeter than splashing around in a chocolate puddle.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen

Thank you so much for the recipe! I can't wait to eat these with a little vanilla ice cream and grated nutmeg on top (like a brownie sundae!).

Eating Places

oooohhhh.... I can't wait to try these. My daughter's birthday is coming up, soon (as if I need an excuse!) so I know what I'm doing this weekend: experimenting with your cookies. Do you think I can try pecans and/or hazelnuts instead of walnuts? Maybe I'll try all of them and compare!

Mitzimi

I make these (the Payard recipe that Smitten Kitchen posted) every year for Passover. They are a huge hit and so easy. They are gluten free too. I think I may try making them slightly less sweet nice time - more cocoa, less sugar? Thoughts on whether it will work?

allie

I love all your healthy recipes, esp any involving the humble sprout. BUT sometimes you have just got to be naughty. Love it! Going to make a batch for hubby. Thanks P.S Surely the nuts make them healthy lol

Laura

I love these cookies, the texture is just so perfect!!! Thanks for reminding me to make some.

Chiot's Run

You are very right, my husband will love these for Valentine's Day!

fresh365

These just sound like a slice of heaven!!! Wow - make sure there are plenty of people to share with.

LonelyGourmet

Heidi! Hahaha! We're so on the same page! Other than the Tearoom Lanskroon Stroopwafel, these are now my favorite cookie. I've had this recipe (Francoi Payard, by way of Orangette, by way of Apartment Therapy-The Kitchn) for quite a while and didn't pick it up until JUST this past week when I was back in the US visiting my mother (who is dairy and gluten intolerant) in Bodega Bay. She's had a huge sweet tooth lately, poor thing, but in addition to dietary intolerances she was starting the South Beach diet. These were the perfect, almost guilt-free thing to make because the only fat they have is from the nuts. You can also consider that confectioner's sugar is part cornstarch; albeit highly digestible, it's not all direct sugar in there. I made the first batch (yes, two batches in a week!) per Payard's recipe and they were delicious but too thin. Then I made them per The Kitchn's adjustments (i.e. hold back on the egg white until you get a batter the consistency of softened butter) and they were perfect - just like their photos. I'm glad you made the adjustments in order to use all the 4 egg whites. AND, I can confirm that pecans were excellent. For the second batch I didn't have enough walnuts so I used pecans instead. They don't have the same health benefits as walnuts, but their slight sweetness and somewhat chewy texture fit right in with this cookie. Green & Black's Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Powder worked wonderfully. I also used an uncoated metal sheet pan (i.e. not nonstick) without parchment paper (I wasn't about to drive 50 minutes to get some!) and oiled it with canola oil. I had no problem removing the cookies easily with a metal spatula after they'd completely cooled - the chewy texture held them together perfectly. Here's to you, sister! Happy Valentine's Day! Cheers, Misha

Misha

Heidi, As I mentioned earlier, these little gems work well in the freezer. Let's make a double batch.. Dad

Boosterrocket

These sound really good! And even if they're filled with sugar, maybe that's redeemed by they're being gluten-free :) No matter what, I love the name and will definitely try these beauties out!

Winnie

I've made similar cookies - I think I found a recipe like your's in Everyday Foods a while back- but also added some dried cherries with the walnuts and that was delish. These cookies are also perfect for the gluten-free crowd. :)

becca

Oh my goodness - I think I may have to make these tonight! My husband is absolutely addicted to the mesquite chocolate chip cookies from SNC, but this cookie may take it's place.

windycityvegan

Wh-wh-WHAT??!!! There's a perfect snow day cookie if I ever saw one. Hallelujah blizzard!

Tizmarelda

i make something like this every day where i work - only we use chocolate chips you are right on w/ the over and underbaking issue... have to get it just right - know your oven, etc. in order for them to be perfect. mine don't have a long shelf-life - they can get dry fast - like in a couple days. what's the longevity of this particular cookie?

coco nib

We are going to have to try these!

Hannah

Those sound out of this world delicious! Thanks for sharing!

christie @ honoring health

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